Welcoming a cat into your home is a truly enriching experience. Cats are great company, they adapt well to new environments and they can quickly become not just a pet, but a real member of the family. In short, life is better with a cat!
Let’s look at a few key things to consider before you invite a cat into your home.
A FEW THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
Inviting a cat into your home is a decision that should be made by everyone in the family. You all need to live in harmony, so it’s important everyone is aware of the many responsibilities of pet ownership.
Cats can live for more than 15 years, so choosing to buy or adopt a cat should never be an impulse decision. It’s a long-term commitment that should be carefully considered and discussed. Even if your kids beg you for a pet and promise they will help look after it, keep in mind that the responsibility to care for your new cat will generally lie with you.
You also need to think your time constraints. Cats are relatively easy pets, but it’s still important to spend time and play with them regularly. It’s good for their well-being and great for your bond. You’ll also need stimulation for them in the times you can’t be there. You might even consider getting two cats if they will be spending a lot of time alone. Living with a feline friend will keep both of them mentally and physically active, and entertained, as they play, climb and cuddle etc.
There are budget considerations too - every cat has basic needs like feeding, grooming and veterinary care. Also, think about what sort of cat would be the best fit for you and your family. There are many different types of breeds of cats, all with their own inherent traits, and there of course other factors to consider when choosing a cat like their age, sex and personality. What’s best for you?
Once all these factors have been considered, and everyone in your family is excited about welcoming a new family member into your home, where do you start? Where’s the best place to find your new cat?
FROM A BREEDER
Reputable, professional breeders guarantee the origins of their cats and are therefore able to sell you a cat of ‘pure breed’. Examples of pure breeds include Siamese, British Shorthair, Persian, Maine Coon and Burmese. Generally, cats from reputable breeders will have been screened for genetic issues, and that you are dealing with a professional whose business is based on caring for and respecting the long term health of their cats.
Reputable breeders will be able to discuss cat ownership with you in advance and help you decide if their particular breed would be a good fit for your family and household. You are able to visit and inspect cats prior to taking them home, and the breeder will be there for advice and follow-up once you have brought your new cat home.
For more information about breeders in your area, visit your local and national cat breeder’s association website.
There are also many people that raise pets privately. This can be a great option if you can adopt from people you know. Perhaps you even already know the cat and feel that she would be a welcome addition to your family. Knowing your pet’s history will also make it easier to transition her into a new environment – you’ll be able to match food and other factors that may make it more comfortable for your cat in the early stages.
If you’re buying privately from someone you don’t know, the important thing is to visit and spend time with the cat prior to taking her home, to get to know her. Try to find out as much as you can about her and her history.
In any case, regardless of her history or current situation, if you adopt a cat at the age of 8 to 12 weeks, there is plenty of time for her to learn to socialise and adapt to a new home. Even wild kittens, with some work, can become affectionate social members of the family.
ADOPTING FROM AN ANIMAL RESCUE CHARITY OR ANIMAL ASSOCIATION
Adopting a cat, from an animal rescue charity or animal association, is the ultimate good pet deed.
There is usually a wide variety of choice of cats – different breeds and ages and personalities – and charity volunteers know their animals and will be able to advise you on the best fit for your family.
Cats from animal rescues charities may have generally been vaccinated, checked out by a vet and neutered.
Wherever you go to find your new cat, trust your instincts. Pet ownership is primarily about companionship and love, so if you come across a cat you fall in love with straight away, she’s probably the one for you!
DOCUMENTS TO ASK FOR
Whatever choice you make it’s important to gather some important documentation about your cat from her previous owner, such as:
- An invoice or record of the change of ownership, this may be required for registering your pet’s identichip
- Her original microchip or electronic identification card
- A veterinary certificate or pet passport prior to transfer
- Her birth certificate if she is a pedigree kitten
- Some basic information on your cat and any of her specific needs or preferences.
Also, ask for some of the food she has been eating. Feeding her familiar food in the early stages can help ease her through the transition into a new home.
RESPONSIBLE OWNERSHIP PROGRAM
Once you have chosen your new cat and brought her home there are a few simple steps to take to help with her transition and to ensure she has a long happy life with you.
There is also excellent specific information on other parts of cat ownership on our site, such as our articles on the many benefits of having a cat, information on feeding your cat, ways to teach your cat basic indoor behaviours, and much more.
The more you learn about cat ownership and the greater your understanding of her needs, the more you will be able to create a rich life for your cat, and the more rewarding your connection will be.
A LIFELONG FRIEND
Inviting a cat into your life is a wonderful decision. Cats have been our companions for thousands of years and cat ownership has been shown to help with stress reduction, socio-emotional and cognitive development in children, and general well-being. They can provide years of close companionship.
But just like the question of whether to have a cat, where to find your cat is an important choice and should be carefully considered. Learn as much as you can about the different choices in your area and what sort of cat would be best for you. Once you have made that decision, enjoy your cat and your life together. It could be the start of a beautiful friendship!